Safety is the issue; and October is the month to emphasize to consumers the importance of upgrading existing, pre-2001 corded window coverings. It’s also the time to highlight the industry’s efforts to raise awareness of safety issues and to eliminate the problem by design.
Once again, the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) has joined
forces with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to
declare October National Window Covering Safety Month. The month-long,
nationwide campaign is designed to increase consumer awareness of
cord safety concerns and to urge parents with young children to
repair or replace pre-2001 corded blinds, shades and draperies with
today’s safer products.
The WCSC is spearheading public relations and safety month marketing
activities on behalf of the industry. As part of its ongoing public
information campaign, WCSC regularly disseminates news and informational
materials in the form of releases and feature stories for the print
and broadcast media and through partnerships with various public
and private organizations concerned with child safety, health and
well-being. These efforts include a special safety month page on
the WCSC Web site and cooperative promotional efforts with safety,
health and housing groups.
To simplify industry participation, the “Kids, Cords, Caution”
safety slogan introduced last year is again being used as the unifying
theme for this year’s campaign, as is the logo that depicts
a child’s hand grabbing the cords of a window blind.
EDUCATE, PROVIDE, PROMOTE
Since its inception in 1994, the WCSC, a coalition of major U.S.
manufacturers, importers and retailers of window coverings, has
made it its mission to:
• Educate Americans about potential window cord hazards facing
• Provide consumers with free cord repair devices and information.
• Promote the industry’s continuing commitment to product
quality and safety.
Since 1995, the WCSC has operated a national window cord safety
information and education program. WCSC provides artwork, ad templates
and cord safety information for reproduction and use by industry
members and retailers in promoting Safety Month. Materials can be
downloaded at no charge from the Internet at www.windowcoverings.org/industry.
Access requires a user name: Industry; and a password: October.
The council also provides consumers with free retrofit tassels,
tie-downs and cord stops for older window coverings. Consumers can
order free retrofit devices through the WCSC’s Web site at
www.windowcoverings.org, or its toll-free phone line at (800) 506-4636.
To date, these efforts have resulted in the repair of millions of
residential window coverings.
As Safety Month, October is an ideal time to remind customers that
if their mini-blinds or corded shades were purchased before 2001,
they should consider replacing them. Safety experts say they may
be a potential hazard to infants and toddlers who could accidentally
strangle on the cords.
Mini-blinds and pleated shades made before 1995 often have a looped
pull cord that can serve as an unintended noose when within reach
of a child. WCSC members eliminated looped pull cords on horizontal
blinds and shades in 1995, and in 1997 permanently attached tie-downs
for vertical blinds and draperies became an industry standard. In
2001, built-in cord stops were incorporated into the design of mini-blinds
and corded shades to help prevent small hands from pulling on inner
cords as well.
“Because cord safety features are now built into window coverings,
we believe parents will feel more confident about their child’s
safety if they replace their older window coverings with the products
now available,” explained WCSC Executive Director Peter Rush.
Another alternative is to retrofit pre-2001 corded blinds and window
coverings with retrofit devices.
Safety experts recommend that parents install cordless window coverings
in children’s bedrooms and play areas. Most traditionally corded
window fashions are now available in cordless styles through the
use of spring-loaded mechanisms, battery- or motor-operated lift
controls, or simple wand pulls. And innovative new designs come
in fabrics, metals and wood.
AWARENESS RISING, MORE WORK TO DO
Even better news is that industry efforts to raise awareness of
safety issues have been working. Ninety percent of Americans are
aware that the pull cords on certain draperies and window blinds
can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children. When
participants of a WCSC study were asked if they were aware of the
potential interior cord hazard in 2001, 65 percent of those polled
said, “Yes.” That number increased to 77 percent in 2002.
That means while awareness is increasing, a significant number of
Americans are still unaware of this important issue. The WCSC and
CPSC remain steadfast in their efforts to make every home safer.
Window Covering Safety Council; 355 Lexington Ave., 17th Floor,
New York, NY 10017-6603; (212) 297-2122; fax; (212) 370-9047.